Friends, colleagues bid farewell to 'brave, fiesty' Suna Venter

2017-07-06 21:28
A picture of 32-year-old veteran journalist, Suna Venter at her memorial at the SABC on Thursday. (Nation Nyoka, News24)

A picture of 32-year-old veteran journalist, Suna Venter at her memorial at the SABC on Thursday. (Nation Nyoka, News24)

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Johannesburg – "At first I was shocked and confused, then I was confused and sad,” said Foeta Krige to family, colleagues and friends of veteran journalist, Suna Venter, who came to pay their last respects at a memorial service held on Thursday at the SABC in Johannesburg.

The memorial was facilitated by Thandeka Gqubule and Busisiwe Ntuli of the SABC 8. Most of those in attendance wore black.

A slide show played on the projector screen in the background showing visuals of headlines referring to the embattled SABC.

There were also pictures of Venter on holiday near the beach with family, her drinking wine, and one of her blowing the candles on a cake.

Krige said that he wrote about his anger and felt better. He was thanked by Venter's father, Phillip Venter, who described him as the man who managed his daughter's career, challenged her and saw potential in her.

The significance of the white balloons on the front of the stage next to the white candles was explained by Gqubule who said that she saw 32-year-old Venter as an all-embracing white dove, something which Dudetsang Makuse, speaking on behalf of civil society, echoed by sharing a story of how she was handing out white balloons at the protest outside the SABC 8 in 2016 when he met her.

Venter was a senior SABC radio producer who was among the eight journalists fired on Mandela’s birthday in 2016, allowing for the media to coin the term ‘The SABC 8’ to refer to them. Seven of the eight were reinstated after a ruling by the Labour Court.

Their crime was standing up against disgraced former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who introduced an editorial policy that stated that violent protests could not be aired. At the time, he said this was to quell the levels of violent protests taking place across South Africa.


Suna Venter's parents Christa and Phillip were at the memorial at the SABC. (Wikus de Wet, Netwerk24)

Tattoo

Venter had a unique tattoo on her arm bearing the question, 'Were you brave?', a quality she embodied in the face of the storm of threats, intimidation and harassment she endured for months – some of the threats she received appeared on the projector as her obituary was read out.

She had shown bravery while working in countries such as Turkey, Syria and Egypt. According to a representative from the Gift of The Givers Foundation, she was keen to change the Afrikaans nation’s perceptions about Palestine. Her father added that she would "spend the money on the children of Gaza rather than lawsuits" due to her love for humanity.

She - along with the rest of the SABC 8 - were also awarded the Nat Nakasa award for their bravery during the turbulent times at the public broadcaster.

Lukhanyo Calata, another SABC8 journalist, described her as "the fiestiest, and most militant" of the SABC 8, admitting that he had spent the least amount of time with her. 

Krivani Pillay broke down in tears as her colleague’s obituary was read out.

Protect the lives of journalists

Danielle Krige said that Venter wrote poetry that she often shared on Facebook, with her most popular one printed on the programme. 

The nine journalists named by the Black First Land First movement (BLF) in their list, were given support with various speakers thanking Sanef (South African National Editors Forum) and many others for their instrumental role in helping to protect the lives of journalists in a time when the media is seemingly under attack.

Also read: Sanef vs BLF: Battle for media freedom

“When I heard that Suna had died, I thought to myself, “Did I do enough in my previous and present life? Did we, as a people, do enough to defend this freedom that we had?” asked Makuse. “I said to myself that I didn't”.

Venter’s body was found in her Fairlands flat in Johannesburg on Thursday, June 29. She is said to have passed on from stress cardiomyopathy, commonly referred to as ‘broken heart syndrome’, a stress-related cardiac condition with the potential to cause rapid and severe heart muscle weakness.

Her family say they don't suspect any foul play given that she had been suffering from a heart condition linked to trauma and prolonged periods of stress.

She is survived by her parents, Phillip and Christa Venter, and siblings Wilhelm and Tessa.

Read more on:    sabc  |  suna venter  |  johannesburg  |  media  |  sabc8

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